Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Research: Harapan can take Putrajaya in straight fight with BN

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With just a five-point swing in support, Pakatan Harapan can form the next federal government with just the winnings in Peninsular Malaysia alone, according to social media research firm Politweet.Org.

However, the firm said a slim margin of three seats - 112 seats are the minimum required - would not be enough to establish a stable government.

Due to this, a stronger swing of support and victories in Sabah and Sarawak would be crucial for the coalition.

Harapan, Politweet said, would need to target an additional 10 or more seats in East Malaysia but this could be a tall order.

“Given the performance of the opposition in the Sarawak state elections in 2016 and the current state of the opposition in Sabah, we can expect Harapan to face difficulty in winning 10 seats,” it added.

Meanwhile, Politweet said three-cornered fights involving PAS would benefit BN and for Harapan to overcome this hurdle, its parties - particularly Bersatu - must win over the ruling coalition's supporters.

“If Harapan is able to do this in three-corner fights, then the results of Scenario Three (a five-point swing to Harapan) can be achieved. This will lead to record victories for Harapan in Kedah and Johor, as well as control of the federal government,” it said.

Another hurdle that Harapan faces is the ongoing redelineation exercise, which is not modelled in Politweet’s simulation.

It said that if the redelineation is completed by the time the election takes place, BN’s odds in winning 10 more seats would improve.

The situation is even bleaker for Harapan if voter sentiments remain as they were in the 13th general election.

In this scenario, Harapan would only win between 76 to 83 seats in Peninsular Malaysia, compared to BN’s winnings of between 82 to 89 seats.

For comparison, the Pakatan Rakyat opposition had won 80 seats in Peninsular Malaysia during the 13th general election, while BN won 86 seats.

In Sabah and Sarawak, Pakatan Rakyat had won only nine seats during the election, compared to BN’s 47 seats.

Politweet said its simulations are based on data on voter demographics and results of the 12th and 13th general election at the polling stream level. This allows it to estimate each voter’s level of support for BN and opposition parties based on factors such as age, race, gender, the constituency involved, and whether it is an urban, semi-urban, or rural constituency, among other factors.

Each voter’s probability of turning up to vote is also estimated with this method.

The firm then ran 300 simulations for each of three different scenarios: If voter sentiment remains the same as the 13th general election, if each voter has a two-percentage-point swing in the probability of voting for the opposition, and if each voter has a five-percentage-point swing in probability in voting for the opposition.

The odds of BN or Harapan winning each constituency is then tallied based on how many times each coalition won the seat out of the 300 simulations.

However, the simulations are based on several assumptions that may not be true for the 14th general election.

It assumes straight fights between BN and a united opposition, and that there is no redelineation.

It also assumes that voter sentiment is unchanged and the 14th general election would see the same turnout rates as the 13th general election’s national average, which is 84.84 percent.
~ Malaysiakini

Read more at https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/408824#jqcM3AR5oplltMDw.99

Pastor Koh's family shocked by suspension of inquiry

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SUHAKAM INQUIRY | Pastor Raymond Koh's family is shocked by the abrupt suspension of an ongoing Suhakam inquiry into his disappearance.

"It is shocking to us as the family, for we had no idea this was going to happen.

"Our hope when we came to Suhakam was to find some answers to the many questions we had about his abduction," his wife Susana Liew (left in photo) told reporters after the decision was announced by Suhakam inquiry panel chairperson Mah Weng Kwai at the commission's headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

The inquiry was suspended this afternoon, after it was revealed that a man was charged yesterday in connection with the pastor's abduction.

Liew, who was accompanied by her children and lawyers, described the suspension as a denial of their right to seek the truth.

"We hoped that there would be justice... but I am afraid that today this hope has been crushed," she added.

The inquiry had commenced on Oct 19 last year.

Koh's family lawyer, Gurdial Singh Nijhar, meanwhile, questioned the move by the police to charge someone whom they previously stated was not involved in the kidnapping.

In particular, Gurdial referred to comments made by Selangor Criminal Investigation Department chief Fadzil Ahmat, that Uber driver Lam Chang Nam, who was charged under Section 365 of the Penal Code for alleged kidnapping, 'had nothing to do with the case'.

"Fadzil, who was the eleventh witness in the inquiry, had publicly declared that Lam had nothing to do with kidnapping Pastor Koh.

"Fadzil, who also heads the task force looking into the abduction of Koh, had said in March last year that their investigations showed that Lam was not involved in the abduction," he said.

Gurdial (photo) quoted Fadzil's comments reported on March 14 last year, one day before Lam claimed trial to the charge of allegedly extorting RM30,000 from Jonathan Koh Szu Hao, 33 - who is Koh's son – over information related to Koh's disappearance.

"So the public might ask what is the game plan of the police at this late hour.

"It can be construed by the public that this is a deliberate attempt to derail the conclusion of this inquiry," Gurdial said.

Koh was abducted in Petaling Jaya on Feb 13. A video recording of the incident showed him being taken away by masked men, in broad daylight.

The inquiry is seeking to establish whether the disappearances of Koh, Amri Che Mat, Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth Hilmy are tantamount to enforced disappearances as defined under the International Convention for Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances (ICPPED).

Following Lam's second charge, Suhakam inquiry panel chairperson Mah Weng Kwai earlier today announced the suspension of its inquiry into the disappearance of pastor Koh until further notice.

"Given the circumstances and developments since yesterday, we have decided that we will immediately cease to do the inquiry until further notice," Mah said after holding a discussion with lawyers representing Koh's family and the Bar Council.

~ Malaysiakini

Read more at https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/408846#csHluuy8Jg8Sko5W.99

Friday, January 12, 2018

Judiciary muzzling Malaysian Bar, says president

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Malaysian Bar president George Varughese has described the change in format to only allow Chief Justice Md Raus Sharif to deliver his speech at the opening of the legal year tomorrow, as tantamount to muzzling the Bar.

Varughese, in his speech at the Bar Council dinner tonight in conjunction with the opening of the legal year, said the opening of the event to be held at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre, has always involved three parties – the court, the Attorney- General’s Chambers and the Malaysian Bar.

“Since its inception in 2010, the legal year has always, in addition to the speech from the CJ, also included a speech from the attorney-general or his representative, and a speech from the president of the Malaysian Bar, as equal partners in the administration of justice.

“The president of the Malaysian Bar has traditionally used the occasion to reflect on significant events in relation to the rule of law and the administration of justice that have taken place over the preceding year and to speak about the visions and aspirations of the Bar for the new legal year,” he said...

Varughese said this year, however, the Bar was informed that at the legal year opening tomorrow, only Justice Raus (photo) will be giving a speech.

“This change in format - from three speeches to one speech - diminishes the involvement and role of the Bar in the legal year. Had we taken part, we would be little more than invited guests. This amounts to a muzzling of the Bar and raises the question of whether this change in format is a result of some concern about what the Bar would say,” he added.

“The Malaysian Bar has always acted and spoken without fear or favour, and as such, when asked to speak, we will endeavour to say what needs to be said.”

“In view of this change in format, the Bar Council after much deliberation decided to decline the invitation from the court to participate in the legal year 2018. We have notified the court of our decision and conveyed our hope that the format of next year's legal year, will once again include speeches by the AG or his or her representative, and the president of the Malaysian Bar,” said Varughese.

Malaysiakini reported on Wednesday on the change in format for the event which has raised concern and reported that office bearers of the Bar Council will decline invitation tomorrow.
Raus: Bar insists on questioning CJ extension

Justice Raus, in an exclusive interview with Utusan Malaysia today, explained the reason for the change in format arising from the Bar questioning his appointment and extension as CJ which they wanted to raise in tomorrow's speech.

“I think this is unwise for the Bar Council to raise the issue in such an event as they had brought (the issue of my extension) to court. I implore them (meminta jasa baik mereka) not to bring up the issue.

“They declined and I decided to change the format of this year's legal year,” he was quoted by Utusan, adding that the Bar's non-attendence would not affect the launch as traditions can change.

Questionable appointments
Varughese, in his speech, further questioned the appointments of Justice Raus and Court of Appeal president Justice Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin beyond the constitutional retirement age of 66 years and six months.

He said the Bar took the unprecedented course of action to file the challenge to the office of the CJ and the president of the CoA as they are leaders of the judicial branch of the government, entrusted with the supreme duty of determining the constitutionality of laws passed by the legislature and the legality of decisions made by the executive.

“The unconstitutionality of the appointments calls into question any orders or judgments that may be made by panels consisting of both the CJ and the President of the CoA and this is the antithesis of their solemn oaths of office and allegiance in pledging to “bear true faith and allegiance to Malaysia, and […] preserve, protect and defend its Constitution”.

“The said unconstitutional appointments have resulted in a severe erosion of confidence of a large section of the public in the judiciary, and invite an adverse perception as to its independence and integrity.

“The vital nature of the roles and duties of the CJ and the president of the CoA under the Federal Constitution requires the circumstances of their appointments to be beyond any controversy,” he stated.

Varughese further listed out why Justice Raus and Justice Zulkefli's appointments are unconstitutional:
  • First, the former CJ is said to have advised, on March 30, 2017, on the eve of his retirement, that the current CJ and the current president of the CoA be appointed, purportedly as additional judges under Article 122(1A) of the Federal Constitution, when the latter two judges were still serving as judges;
  • Secondly, nothing in Article 122(1A) permits an outgoing CJ to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in respect to any appointment of additional judges that is to take effect after he has ceased to be the CJ. Otherwise, an outgoing CJ may, before his retirement, advise on the appointment of additional judges that would take effect when he is no longer the CJ, and furthermore, nothing in Article 122(1A) permits any advice of an outgoing CJ to be acted upon after his retirement;
  • Thirdly, that any such advice given by an outgoing CJ would also unconstitutionally encroach upon and usurp the duties and powers of the serving CJ, as the provision in Article 122(1A) should only be exercised by the serving CJ;
  • Fourthly, the current CJ and president of the CoA continue to hold the positions of CJ and president of the CoA, for a further three and two years respectively, beyond the constitutionally prescribed age limit; and,
  • Finally, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak acted unconstitutionally, in relying on an erroneous interpretation of the Constitution in advising the Yang di-Pertuan Agong that the current CJ and the current president of the CoA appointed purportedly as additional judges in the Federal Court, may continue to hold their positions beyond the constitutionally prescribed age limit.

Read more at https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/408374#yv7FePFjtuU4eKeu.99

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Baru hails former CM as ‘open, courteous leader’

Baru Bian

FOR Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian, he remembers Pehin Sri Adenan Satem as a leader who had always been courteous and open to the state elected representatives (ADUNs) from the opposition, even before he became chief minister.

“Shortly after he took office, the opposition ADUNs were welcomed by him when we made a courtesy call on him at his office — something that was unheard of during his predecessor’s time. I remember that Adenan was very receptive to our suggestions and ideas when we discussed issues of concern that were affecting the lives of Sarawakians.

“It was also a point of gratification for us that he was ready to recognise and acknowledge the sentiments of Sarawakians — the unhappiness we felt about lagging behind Peninsular Malaysia in terms of development and the failure of the Federal Government to honour the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), resulting in his initiation of the movement to pressure the federal government to devolve powers to the state in certain areas of concern,” Baru, who is Parti Keadilan Sarawak (PKR) chairman, said when asked to share his memories of Adenan.

Baru acknowledged that Adenan dared to ride on the opposition’s issues and to take them on as the state government’s issues, such as the call for an increase of the state’s petroleum royalty from five per cent to 20 per cent, and the affirmation of English as a second official language of Sarawak.

“He was not afraid to give his frank opinions and in many instances, he voiced out what we all thought about statements and proposals from the federal leaders. His liberal use of the word ‘stupid’ was groundbreaking — legendary in this respect.”

In the State Legislative Assembly (DUN), Baru said Adenan allowed the Barisan Nasional (BN) Backbenchers to speak their minds and as a result, many started to speak openly about the lack of development in their constituencies — indeed, they continue to do so.

“It’s a positive and progressive step towards a more mature and meaningful form of government, and the ‘liberation’ of the BN Backbenchers was further enhanced by Adenan’s frowning upon the attempted continuation of the fawning and obsequious tendencies carried over from the past administration.”

Baru said the passing of Adenan was a huge blow to Sarawakians because he had such high hopes for Sarawak, and he had many ideas which he was unable to see to fruition.

“For me, the biggest disappointment and regret was he did not manage to settle the NCR (native customary rights) land issue while he was in office.

“What a legacy he would have left for us had he done so. Our native communities are now facing even more difficulties and challenges in their struggle to defend their NCR land, and I am sure he would not have been happy about that.

“However, it is a comfort to note that in his final days, he showed his concern for the people by instructing and entrusting (Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi) Abang Johari (Tun Openg) to settle the matter. We hope that Abang Johari and his ministers would grant his (Adenan’s) last wish sooner rather than later.”

~ Borneo Post Online

Learn from Tok Nan — See

January 11, 2018, Thursday
In his three-year reign, he boldly inspired and set out to lead all of us to attain those goals. That is the legacy of the late ‘Tok Nan’. See Chee How, Batu Lintang assemblyman and PKR Sarawak vice-chairman

IT has been exactly one year since the  untimely passing of our beloved late-chief minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem and in his memory, let us reminisce on his meaningful govern over our State so that we may remind ourselves of the vision he had for our State and how that vision had moved all of our hearts deeply.

In a statement to The Borneo Post, Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How expressed his desire to remind the public of the goals and rights of Sarawak that Adenan had so fiercely fought for in his three-year tenure.

“Imagine… Sarawak enjoying full autonomy and sovereignty over her full territorial realm and bountiful resources as it was pledged by the founding fathers of Malaysia;

“Imagine… Sarawakians of all races living in peace and harmony, working and caring for one another;

“Imagine… Sarawakians being free to practice their faith, while respecting the religions of those around them;

“Imagine… Sarawakians free to determine the best education for their children so they may help inspire and beget a competitive, progressive and advanced future for Sarawak.

“Just imagine…” he mused.

In the statement, See – the state Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice-chairman – detailed that as Sarawakians, we have always dreamt and aspired for these goals and promises to come to fruition, but for the most part, it has always just been a dream.

This, however, eventually changed as it took the person in the late Adenan to give us Sarawakians hope that Sarawak as the ‘promised land’ is not just a dream.

“In his three-year reign, he boldly inspired and set out to lead all of us to attain those goals. That is the legacy of the late ‘Tok Nan’.

“So on the anniversary for his unfortunate passing, it is appropriate for us to remember this fatherly statesman, to renew our commitment to continue the works and to achieve the goals because we love Sarawak as much as the late Tok Nan did,” See said.

But besides just reminding ourselves of the goals set forth by Adenan, See added that all of us regardless of what walks of life we come from should look towards Adenan as a role model.

“While his realm was short, he had set a benchmark for all Sarawakian political leaders to emulate, that all Sarawakians must stand together for the betterment of Sarawak.

“Because of his love for Sarawak, true and sincere to his belief of ‘Sarawak First’ and ‘Sarawakian First’, his leadership had led to the historical milestones of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly unanimously asserting petroleum justice, restoration of territorial integrity, autonomous rights and devolution of power.

“So, in memory of him, let us learn from the late former chief minister to treat all Sarawakians, allies and foes, with respect and candour, to earn the respect of others in our aspiration and pursuit to transform Sarawak into a competitive, progressive and advanced nation state.”

~ Borneo Post Online

Gas explosion triggers panic

Gas pipeline blast sends nearby residents scrambling for safety, several affected by gas leakage
Lawas District Officer Hussaini Hakim (fourth left) is briefed by representatives of Petronas, Fire and Rescue Department and local residents at the site of the gas leak. The blackened earth on the right indicates where the explosion occurred.

MIRI: A gas leak followed by an explosion at KP181 of the Sabah-Sarawak Gas Pipeline (SSGP) sent locals in Long Luping, Lawas scurrying to safety early yesterday.

The leak in the pipeline also triggered an immediate evacuation of some 80 pupils from nearby SK Long Luping.

Sixty-one-year-old Martin Singa and his wife, who live just 500 metres from the site, were left with breathing difficulties as well as eye and throat irritation caused by the leaked gas from the pipeline.

Martin, who was taking his wife to a clinic in Long Semadoh for treatment when contacted by The Borneo Post, said he was the first to know about the leakage.

“I smelled the gas around 1.30am before hearing a loud explosion. The sound was so loud – like a plane had crashed.

“I immediately knew something was not right and my wife and I drove our car to the main road to safety,” he said, adding his wife’s condition was more serious than his as she had breathing difficulties and blurred vision.

“We were in a state of panic, but managed to drive to the school (SK Long Luping) about three kilometres away to inform them about the gas leak, prompting the school to evacuate its pupils.”

Martin said as there was no telephone reception in the area, he used amateur radio to make an emergency communication around 1.45am.

“I called them via the (amateur) radio and thankfully, someone from Ba Kelalan responded to the call. 
He forwarded my message to the police station in Lawas to get the valves shut down,” he said.

Another local, Peter Dison, 36, who works at a logging camp in Merarap (about 10 kilometres from the site) said he also heard the explosion.

“The sound was so loud that we could hear it from as far as Merarap. It was about 2am and I was going to start the generator set. Some of the mechanics working at the camp rushed to the school (SK Long Luping) to check on their children.

“We all panicked,” he said.
Petronas representatives (right and extreme left) talk to Martin Singa during their visit to the site yesterday following the incident. With them is Gituen Labung, who is a representative of Ba Kelalan assemblyman.

The leakage at KP181 – the second to hit the pipeline caused the gas supply from Kimanis in Sabah to be immediately shut off.

On June 10, 2014, an explosion at KP135 of the SSGP ripped apart a portion of the RM3-billion interstate gas pipeline project along a stretch between Lawas town and Long Sukang in the northern-most district of Sarawak.

In a brief statement issued by the media relations unit of its Sabah and Labuan Regional Office yesterday, Petronas confirmed the gas leak incident at Long Luping.

It said that its emergency response team was mobilised and brought the situation under control, and that all relevant authorities had been informed.

“There is no impact to the surrounding communities and the environment. Investigation (is) still being carried out,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian said he was informed of the leakage by his Lawas office staffers.

“I understand that Petronas security personnel had been sent to the area around Long Meringau, near to Long Luping,” he said when contacted.

“As this is the second time a leakage has occurred, I am very concerned and so are the people in the area.

“A thorough investigation must be done. I hope to get a briefing from Petronas on the incident soon,” he said.

The 512-km SSGP pipes gas from Kimanis for processing into liquefied natural gas (LNG) at the Petronas LNG Complex in Bintulu for export.
Aftermath of the explosion at point of the leakage at KP181 of the Sabah-Sarawak Gas Pipeline at Long Luping .

~ Borneo Post Online

Thursday, December 21, 2017



In the Old Testament, Isaiah foretold the birth of Jesus: Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. ~ Isaiah 7:14

During the time of Isaiah, Judah was a divided state that was facing threats from neighbouring Samaria, in addition to their own problems. The people were cast in hopelessness and despair, but were comforted when God spoke to Isaiah and gave them hope with the promise of a savior to come.

When Isaiah made the prophecy, the people thought that the event would happen during their time, and started looking for such a child. However, God’s time is not the same as man’s time. The prophecy went beyond Isaiah’s time and it was 500 years later that Matthew confirmed the same prophecy: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God is with us.” ~ Matthew 1:23

This reflection brings me to the spiritual aspect of Christmas – because of our sins, we are in a dire situation but there is hope to be reconciled with God, made possible by the birth of Jesus. This is clearly stated in both the Old and New Testaments. The prophecy was realised with the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day, offering us reconciliation with God, if we make the commitment to do so.

The current situation in this country reminds me of the time of Isaiah. It is a time of political unrest and uncertainty, and the people are going through difficult times economically. Even in these challenging political, economic and social situations and this time of religious and political oppression, God in His mercy can intervene in our nation. God, in His sovereignty can bring about the consciousness of justice and righteousness in people of all religions, and He can cause such justice and righteousness to shine in Malaysia.

It is my hope and prayer that this Christmas, we examine ourselves, and make the decision to rededicate ourselves to God who has in His love and mercy sent Jesus to be born as a human more than 2000 years ago. Let us all also take the time to renew, refresh and reaffirm our commitment towards making Malaysia a country of peace and harmony, justice and equality, where courageous and righteous leaders will steer the country in the right direction, away from corruption and waste.

This is also a time of gratitude for our blessings, for our families, friends and all with whom we come into contact in our daily lives. It is our relationships that give meaning and richness to our lives – our relationship with God and with the people around us. This Christmas, I wish everyone abundant blessings of the love of God, family and friends. For 2018, may we see changes that will bring about prosperity, progress and peace to all communities of Sarawak and Malaysia.

A Blessed Christmas and Happy New Year!

God Bless Malaysia, God Bless Us All.

Baru Bian
Chairman, KEADILAN Sarawak / ADUN N81 Ba’ Kelalan  

EC's Christmas week hearing signals 'dirty polls' looming, claims MB's office

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The Selangor government has criticised the Election Commission's decision to conduct its first public hearing on its redelineation exercise for the state next week.

In a letter to Selangor speaker Hannah Yeoh, the EC stated that the hearing for the Kelana Jaya parliamentary seat would be held on Dec 27 from 3.30pm to 4pm at the Grand Bluewave Hotel in Shah Alam.

The move followed the Court of Appeal's decision on Monday to allow the EC's application to remove a stay order issued by the Kuala Lumpur High Court which prevented it from carrying out the hearing.

Selangor Menteri Besar's Office strategic communications director Yin Shao Loong said the EC failed to take into account that the last week of December is a holiday period.

He pointed out that many would be on holiday with their families, celebrating Christmas or preparing for the new school session.

“It’s clear how the EC’s decision was made in haste, with the short notice during a long holiday season despite the EC having until September 2018 to settle the matter.

“This shows that the 14th general election is near and what that is most worrying is that we will once again see a dirty and flawed election process in our country's history,” he added in a statement.

Yin (photo) also claimed that the political elite is attempting to manipulate the election through the redelineation process to ensure their grip on power continues.

He believes the redelineation process would not be conducted fairly and would favour BN.

“The EC is supposed to be free from being BN’s puppet. Malaysians are urged not to fall for their tricks which will only steal the voters' rights,” he said.

Earlier this month, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur dismissed the Selangor government's judicial review application to challenge the EC’s redelineation notice.

Justice Azizul Azmi Adnan, however, had granted a stay on his decision, which prevented the EC from conducting an inquiry on the grouses of voters in Selangor.

Meanwhile, electoral reform group Bersih described the EC’s move as disenfranchising urban voters for a political agenda.

Bersih accused EC of failing to show independence and respect for a just and representative redelineation.

“Bersih condemns the insensitivity of the EC in carrying out the hearing during Christmas week. Most urban voters in Selangor will be spending that week celebrating with families and on holiday.

“To summon voters during the holiday season manifests a total disregard for the festival and displays a lack of care for the availability of voters,” it added.

~ Malaysiakini
Read more at https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/406152#PjmI0X1ft0OC3His.99

Hakam takes gov't to task over daily's Wang Kelian exposé

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The National Human Rights Society (Hakam) has called for the government to answer questions posed by a local daily on the alleged cover-up of human trafficking activities in the Wang Kelian camp in Perlis.

In a statement released today, Hakam president Ambiga Sreenevasan in a statement raised a few points that the government must answer to put the matter to rest.

"Why had the initial discovery of these death camps been kept a secret? Who gave the orders to sanitise and destroy the crime scene, and why?

"Why were the Perlis police, who knew the existence of these jungle camps, not held accountable for ignoring these victims?" she asked.

Ambiga further urged the government to provide full disclosure into another camp in Bukit Genting Perah, the status of the suspects arrested during the snatch and grab mission there, as well as the follow-up action on the report on the Bukit Wang Burma death camps.

Earlier today, English daily the New Straits Times (NST) ran a report headlined “Was there a cover-up in Wang Kelian?” which referred to the discovery of mass graves of human trafficking victims in Wang Kelian in 2015.

Its extensive report alleged of a subsequent cover-up by destroying evidence, as well as redacting reports and other documents in the course of the investigation.

On May 1, 2015, Malaysian authorities were alerted to the human trafficking camps and mass graves by their Thai counterparts.

They checked the Malaysian side of the border, and discovered 139 graves on May 24, together with some two dozen similar-looking squalid camps, as reported by NST.

Hakam called upon the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) to inquire into NST’s investigative report by NST.

Meanwhile, DAP's Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim, in a separate statement, said that the report has reinforced an "open secret" of the involvement of syndicates in the matter, as previously highlighted by international reports, local NGOs and opposition lawmakers, including himself.

He said the government's inaction on the matter has allowed the situation to degenerate into the current horrible state.

"Nothing short of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) is sufficient at this point.

"It is not as if there were no investigations before this. On 20 March 2017, the home minister (Ahmad Zahid Hamidi), when replying to my question in Parliament, said that all 12 policemen detained under anti-trafficking laws in relation to the discovery of the Wang Kelian migrant death camp at the Malaysia-Thai border were released due to lack of strong evidence against them.

"While I do not want to jump the gun on these officials, it is clear that such death camps, with almost 200 graves discovered and known to locals in the surrounding areas, cannot exist outside the knowledge of those in authorities.

“In the end, only three foreigners were sentenced in relation to Wang Kelian.

"If a royal commission of inquiry can be established to investigate forex loses over 25 years ago, surely it is more critical to have an RCI on immigration, a current and pressing issue on our border security, with grave implications on human lives and our Malaysian society."

~ Malaysiakini
Read more at https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/406111#TF1oPPZLjHso2fpA.99

Stop probing UM prof immediately over article on radicalism, says SIS

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Sisters in Islam (SIS) has called for the immediate stop in the investigation against law professor Shad Saleem Faruqi over an op-ed published in a national newspaper last month.

In a statement, the advocacy group said that Shad, as an academic whose interest and expertise lies in constitutional matters and Islamic policies, had acted within his professional boundaries when he commented on religious radicalism in his recent article in The Star daily.

"Where do we draw the line in identifying individuals that disrupt public peace and those that promote peace, harmony and tolerance through academic discourse?

"Or does the provision only apply to certain institutions and individuals?

"We should take cognisance of Imam Malik’s statement that ‘Diversity of opinion is Allah’s gift to the ummah,’ and any imposition of one particular opinion would be tantamount to destroying this divine gift," said SIS, adding that the probe against Shad was a "blatant abuse of power in an attempt to subdue freedom of expression."

The Universiti Malaya professor is being investigated under Section 504 of the Penal Code, which deals with intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of peace, and carries up to two years imprisonment, a fine, or both upon conviction.

The Malaysia Islamic Strategic Research Institute (Iksim) had lodged a report over Shad's article “Religious radicalism on the rise” that was carried by The Star, in which he had argued against the institute's position on secularism, on the Federal Constitution being subservient to Islam, and on the enforcement of religious laws.

SIS also urged an end to the "systematic demonising and shutting down of diverse voices" concerning matters related to Islam.

"As Malaysians who value democracy, the rule of law and values that promote harmony, tolerance and peace within society, we call upon academics, activists and the public to speak up and push back against the intimidation of academics and the suppression of academic freedom."

Yesterday, civil rights group Lawyers for Liberty voiced similar concerns, saying the probe against Shad amounted to an attack on academia and the freedom of speech.

~ Malaysiakini

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Worst fears about EC redelineation may not come to pass, says analyst

Published:     Modified:

The worst instances of gerrymandering and malapportionment under the Election Commission’s redelineation exercise may not materialise, according to Penang Institute fellow Wong Chin Huat.

He said such manipulations are a “double-edged sword,” and would not necessarily be in the EC’s final proposal.

“Delineational manipulations are a double-edged sword. They don't guarantee victory but they amplify the gains or loses.

“It would make it easier for BN to win two-thirds if it retains a substantial part of its support base. However, if enough voters swing, BN might be worse hit,” Wong (photo) told Malaysiakini yesterday.

The High Court in Kuala Lumpur had earlier granted a stay on the EC’s over 100 local inquiries in Selangor, which stalled the redelineation process. This is pending the Selangor government’s challenge against the redelineation exercise at the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal, however, overturned the stay on Monday. This allows the EC to continue with the local inquiries in Selangor and the rest of the redelineation process while the Selangor government’s legal challenge is still tied up in court.

According to a Sin Chew Daily report on Tuesday, sources had claimed that a special parliamentary sitting may be held in January next year to pass the EC’s recommendations in order to pave way for the parliament to be dissolved in late February.

However, Wong said the EC may take more than two months to finish the redelineation process in Selangor, making the January special sitting unlikely.

If the EC makes changes to its first proposal of electoral boundaries, he explained, it will then need to accommodate a public display of the amended boundaries, a 30-day objection period, and in the case of objections, subsequent rounds of local inquiries.

“This means it's possible for the new maps to be tabled to and approved by the parliament in March for it to be used in GE14 if it is called after the parliamentary session,” he said.

Malapportionment and gerrymandering

The EC’s ongoing redelineation exercise has been marred by allegations of malapportionment and gerrymandering, with formal objections filed in that regard.

Malapportionment refers to when there are vast differences between the number of voters in each constituency – which are meant to be approximately of equal size – which is regarded as unfair because it dilutes the value of the votes cast in larger constituencies.

Gerrymandering, meanwhile, involves concentrating the supporters of one party in a handful of constituencies and breaking up supporters of another into multiple constituencies – which allows one party to win despite having fewer votes.

The Federal Constitution stipulates that the EC must hold inquiries to consider objections from voters in affected areas.

If the EC makes revisions to its boundaries, it would need to repeat the process of publishing a notice of these changes, allowing a 30-day objection period, and hold a second round of local inquiries. No more than two rounds of local enquires are to be held.

Once completed, the EC will submit its recommendations – along with a draft order to adopt it with or without modifications – to the prime minister, who will table it in the Dewan Rakyat in turn.

These recommendations only require a simple majority to pass. If these are voted down, however, the prime minister may make amendments with consultation from the EC before tabling it in the Dewan Rakyat again.

Skipping ahead

Wong pointed out, however, that the constitution also allows the EC to simply adopt its first proposal in full, and skip having to repeat the whole process.

“The EC can decide to not make any changes to its first proposal and skip the second display.

“This is not only unprecedented, but with over 100 rejections in Selangor, to say all the objections are invalid would be a hard slap on public opinion,” he said.

When asked about the options the Pakatan Harapan-led Selangor government has to challenge the new electoral boundaries, Wong suggested that the coalition make it an election issue, and urge voters to punish those who stand to gain from the redrawn boundaries.

“Democracy is about voters choosing politicians.

“But gerrymandering turns the tables around, allowing favoured politicians to choose their voters and seal their victory, even before votes are cast,” he said.
~ Malaysiakini

Read more at https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/406126#Dw9sqvQEBc8lwjDX.99

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Pakatan backs calls to curb PM’s power to appoint, promote judges

Asila Jalil

Pakatan backs calls to curb PM’s power to appoint, promote judges
The current laws do not oblige the prime minister to give any reason if he rejected judges nominated by the Judicial Appointments Commission, which gives the perception that Malaysia’s judiciary lacks independence. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, December 12, 2017.
THE power of the prime minister to influence the appointment and promotion of judges is too strong and needs to be curbed to protect the independence of the judiciary, said Pakatan Harapan parties.

DAP said the matter should be included in its election manifesto.

PKR’s N. Surendran said the prime minister has the power to appoint judges as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was required to act on the advice of the prime minister under the federal constitution.

“Article 122B as it stands, gives the power to appoint judges to the prime minister. This is because by virtue Article 40(1), the (Yang di-Pertuan) Agong is bound by the prime minister’s advice.”

He also said the independence of the judiciary can only be ensured by removing the prime minister’s role in the appointment and promotion of judges.

“Otherwise, the executive has too great an influence and power over the judiciary,” said Surendran, adding that the proposal is in line with PKR’s commitment to ensure the independence of key institutions.

The move was recently called for by pro-moderation group of prominent former civil servants, G25, who questioned the current laws which did not oblige the prime minister to give any reason if he rejected judges nominated by the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC).  

DAP’s legal bureau chief Gobind Singh Deo said he will push for the proposal to be included in the party’s election manifesto and talks are being held over the matter.

“I would support any move to distance the prime minister from having any role to play in the appointment or promotion of judges.

“We should (include it in the manifesto). I would recommend that it be included. Discussions are currently being held over a wide range of topics, including this,” he told The Malaysian Insight.

Bersatu supreme council member Dr Rais Hussin Mohamed Ariff said the proposal would ensure that the judges are “truly independent and not beholden to anyone”.

However, he stopped short of saying whether Bersatu would include the proposal in its manifesto.

“A proper mechanism can be instituted to ensure this proposal be attained.

“As for the manifesto, kindly wait for the eventual announcement as PH (Pakatan Harapan), though it has drafted the manifesto, is doing a series of engagements with various stakeholders.”

Amanah vice-president Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa said the party has always called for the judiciary to be independent.

“Judges should be independent. And the executive should not interfere. And ‘yes’ to anything that will help the judiciary to be more independent,” he told The Malaysian Insight.

Concerns over the prime minister’s powers in making judicial appointments surfaced again this year when the government in July announced the term extensions of Chief Justice Raus Sharif and Court of Appeal president Zulkefli Ahmad Makinuddin by appointing them as additional judges upon reaching the retirement age.

G25 described the current constitutional provisions which made prime minister the person who effectively decides on the appointments or promotions of judges, as “unsatisfactory”.

The group said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was constitutionally obliged to act on the advice of the prime minister and this “gives rise to the perception that the judiciary is beholden to the executive.

“It is proposed (that) the prime minister plays no role at all in the appointment of judges.

“Instead of the prime minister, JAC should recommend the names to the Conference of Rulers (for their views) and, thereafter, to the Agong,” it said in its report on “Invigorating economic confidence in Malaysia”, released on Saturday in Kuala Lumpur.

Article 122B of the constitution provides that the appointments of the chief justice, president of the Court of Appeal, chief judges of the high courts, and other judges of the Federal Court, Court of Appeal and high courts shall be made by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, acting on the advice of the prime minister, after consulting the Conference of Rulers.

Changing constitutional provisions, however, would require the support of two-thirds of the Dewan Rakyat’s 222 MPs. The ruling Barisan Nasional has 132 lawmakers, PH 88 and two are independents. – December 12, 2017.

~ The Malaysian Insight

When God is blamed for BN’s failures

By Syerleena Abdul Rashid

Published:     Modified:

LETTER | Recently, Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Hamzah Zainudin was quoted to have verbally shared a piece from the hadith during the recent Umno general assembly where Prophet Muhammad stated: “Verily, it is God who sets prices, who makes things hard, easy and gives out blessings.”

Hamzah interpreted the rising cost of living we currently face as God’s will, which instantaneously, drew a lot of flak from Malaysians.

The recent statement made by our esteemed minister proves that the level of foolish arrogance that is seemingly prevalent within the circles of the ruling coalition reeks of immense denial and pomposity. A minister of his stature should have provided a better reasoning, perhaps, one that entails rational logic and statistics to support his claims.

The implementation of GST combined with the recent abolishment and reduction of both the fuel and road toll subsidies; weakening global economy and dipping currency have worsen the rising cost of living, which is one of Malaysians greatest concerns.

According to “Survey Malaysia 2017: Mood of the nation,” 82 percent of 4,468 respondents agreed that the GST triggered the rising cost of living.

In another survey conducted by the Department of Statistics, the top three areas where average Malaysian households spent were: housing and utilities (24 percent), food and beverages (18 percent) and transportation (13.7 percent), while this survey provides an idea on how much Malaysians are spending in general, one thing is clear - Malaysian’s are simply not getting paid enough.

Factors such as cheap foreign labour, low productivity levels and negative employer attitudes attribute to wage stagnation, which in turn, has weaken the Malaysian spending power drastically.

This phenomenon has hit single income families the hardest and a minister from the ruling coalition should have provided better policies to help alleviate the financial burdens these families face.

What all of this proves is nothing more than the failure of the BN-led federal government.

While we can agree that Hamzah’s ridiculous statement is far too appalling to be ignored, the usage of “God’s will” to justify insensitive and unjust policies is not new and will not go away anytime soon.

Umno frequently uses frames that present "threat imagery" that goes into full force at every general assembly; the organisation and its leaders will exacerbate fears about our nation's security and values which all play an important part to build up “confidence” in winning the Malay-Muslim vote.

According to authors Kevin and Jackie Frieberg, leadership is best explained as “a dynamic relationship based on mutual influence and common purpose between leaders and collaborators in which both are moved to higher levels of motivation and moral development as they affect real, intended change.” Therefore, the quality of a leader is often reflected through the standards they set for themselves.

Unfortunately, ministers like Hamzah are ever too willing to use religious imagery to mentality divide us and force us to a regressive state where we are conditioned to see the world in black and white.

To paraphrase Rumi, “Before you speak, ask yourself ‘Is it true?’, then ask ‘Is it necessary?’ and lastly ask ‘Is it kind?” – clearly such deliberations were not considered in Hamzah’s conscience.

We need political leaders who are thoughtful, those who are able to engage in debates and those who will not blindly bring God or religion into the sphere of political discourse. Malaysia will continue to face socio-economic stagnation if we continue to allow the arrogant, the superficial and the uninformed to remain in the corridors of federal power.

We now live in an age where interpretations of religious scriptures are so varied and loose, ascertaining what is true, sincere and factual have all become challenges we face as a nation.

Unfettered fascism that is carefully veiled as nationalism and democracy has joined the religious right, directly presenting a clandestine “cause” that binds lunacy and governance.

Bringing God into the narrative to justify our ailing economy and rising cost of living is just another cowardly act to circumvent responsibility and accountability.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

~ Malaysiakini

Monday, December 11, 2017

Pakatan Harapan condemns ‘threat’ of stern action against slogan users

Chong (seated third right), Baru (seated third left), Fidzuan (seated second right) and other PH committee members during the press conference.

KUCHING: Pakatan Harapan (PH) Sarawak condemned Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s recent statement that the government would take stern action against those attempting to instigate the people using the slogans ‘Sarawak for Sarawakians’ and ‘Sabah for Sabahans’.

According to PH chairman and state DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen, PH viewed Ahmad Zahid’s statement as a threat, and called on Sarawak Barisan Nasional (Sarawak BN) to stand against Umno’s oppression of Sarawak.

He also commented that such slogan was endorsed by Sarawak BN during the 2016 state election and it had helped obtain some votes for BN as well.

“However, now that the “Sarawak for Sarawakians” slogan works against BN due to the reluctance on the part of BN to devolve power to the state, the BN government attempts to criminalise the slogan.

“Ahmad Zahid’s statement speaks clearly of UMNO’s position against the demands of Sarawakians for more autonomous power and it is also the way UMNO flexes its muscle against Sarawak,” he said during a press conference held at DAP headquarters here today.

Chong noted that it was only as recent as Nov 17 that the state government has proposed for Ahmad Zahid to be the person to lead the team representing the federal government in the negotiation for the devolution of power to Sarawak and yet Ahmad Zahid had issued such a statement that showed he is against the demands of Sarawakians.

PH also expressed their disappointment that four days have passed since the statement was made, but the only reaction from Sarawak BN was an apologetic explanation by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan while other state leaders remained silent.

Also present were PKR Sarawak chairman Baru Bian, Amanah Sarawak chairman Mohd Fidzuan Zaidi, DAP Sarawak deputy chairman Chiew Chin Sing, state PKR Women chief Nurhanim Hanna Mokhsen, Krian assemblyman Ali Biju and other PH committee members.

~ Borneo Post

Friday, December 8, 2017

Report: M'sia one of 12 countries where apostasy is punishable by death

Published:     Modified:

Malaysia is one of only 12 countries in the world to have apostasy technically punishable by death, according to the Freedom of Thought Report 2017.

The report, published by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), also listed Malaysia as one of 30 countries which gravely violated at least one of the four themes which were measured.

Other countries which were also listed as meeting at least one "grave violation", the lowest category, include Afghanistan, Brunei, China, North Korea and Syria.

"Apostasy' or conversion from a specific religion is outlawed and punishable by death.

"It is illegal to advocate secularism or church-state separation, or such advocacy is suppressed.

"It is illegal or unrecognised to identify as an atheist or as non-religious," the report said about Malaysia, under its grave violations of the theme freedom of expression and advocacy of humanist values.

Malaysia also fell under the ambit of 'grave violations' for the theme 'family, community, society, religious courts and tribunals'.

"Government figures or state agencies openly marginalise, harass or incite hatred or violence against the non-religious," the report read.

It cited an incident in August this year where at least one federal minister threatened to "hunt down" atheists in a viral photo of an 'atheist club'.

The report also noted that ethnic Malays are subjected to strict state controls over an "enforced, homogenous religious identity".

Blasphemy is outlawed, it pointed out, and criticism of religion is restricted or punishable by a prison sentence.

Malaysia also scored poorly on the two other themes that are 'constitution and government' as well as 'education and children's rights', falling under the 'severe discrimination' category for both.

"Religious instruction is mandatory in all or most state-funded schools with no secular or humanist alternative," the report noted.

It also pointed out that Malaysia only signed two of the eight legally enforceable human rights treaties from the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

"Even then, the state asserts constitutional exemptions to these treaties and to the Universal Declaration itself, asserting that only 'those fundamental liberties provided for' in the Constitution will be upheld, rendering its signature to the UDHR essentially an empty gesture," it said.

Read more at https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/404799#VDDgG7CSmqcGSphU.99